We’re all pretty well versed in the benefits of physical activity – weight control, better heart health, more energy, better sleep, the list goes on. There’s one benefit that may not be getting the recognition it deserves though: improved self-esteem.
You may be thinking, well sure, physical activity helps with weight control and better body image. There’s more to it though. Physical activity, whether it be walking, running, biking, swimming, or playing a sport, is a way of setting a goal for yourself, and pushing yourself to reach that goal.
The creators of the local Girl Quest and Boy Quest (GQBQ) programs recognized the impact that physical activity can have on the development of self-esteem in students. GQBQ is a local 10-week program for students in grades 3-7. Participating students meet in groups after school with an adult volunteer mentor/coach. The students spend 90 minutes twice a week with a mentor learning about healthy habits, and training for a 3.1 mile (5K) run.
In the 10 years that GQBG has been in Jackson County, over 3,000 students have participated in the program. Parents, family members, teachers, and the students themselves have shared stories about increased confidence, goal setting, teamwork, sportsmanship, and improved work habits.
Doing something good for yourself is also a great way to increase confidence and self esteem in adults. Whether you choose to become more physically active, to eat healthier, quit smoking, to talk to a mental health professional, or other health goals, keep these tips in mind:
- Do it for the right reasons - Before you get started, make sure you are setting goals for the right reasons. Don't choose to work out in hopes of looking better for a class reunion; choose to work out for the extra energy it will give you. Don't choose to eat healthier because some of your friends are; choose to eat healthier so that your doctor can take you off cholesterol medication.
- Set a goal you can reach - Don't set yourself up for failure. If you have never run a mile in your life, running a marathon is probably not a good goal to get you started. Instead, set a short term goal, that you are confident you can achieve with hard work and careful planning. For some, that goal could be working up to a 20 minute walk around the block, or riding your bike to the library.
- Take time to reflect - People often say “I feel great after I work out, but I have such a hard time getting started.” This kind of reflection is important for goals that seem hard to stick to, or hard to make part of daily routine. Taking time to think about how you feel after your walk or run will help you find the motivation on a day when you feel like giving up. If you fall off track for a week or two, reflect on how you’ve felt during that time. For instance, if you had been jogging and stop, take note of how your legs are feeling. If you had been working on eating a healthy breakfast every morning and fell back into skipping breakfast, think about how you’ve been feeling at work, and how much you eat at lunch and dinner now. Chances are your body will start giving you clues that it misses the healthy behavior.
- Don’t go it alone - The GQBQ coaches see changes in themselves after working with the students. Many come back year after year because they find that being a positive role model helps keep them motivated to stay active and healthy. Healthy habits spread from person to person. The changes you make will have an impact on your family, friends and co-workers. Find others to talk to about your goals and progress, so that you can learn from and support each other.
Have you ever noticed a change in your confidence after starting a healthy habit? Login to leave a comment and join the discussion!